Sarfaraz Ahmed’s Pakistan will be eyeing to put history behind when they will face New Zealand in the first ODI of the five-match series in Wellington on Saturday.The Men in Green does not have a good record Down Under, but this time, the visitors will be going with high on confidence after winning nine out of their last 10 matches in the 50-over format.
In the batting department, the visitors have made serious adjustments with the inclusion of opener Azhar Ali, who is likely to open with hard-hitting Fakhar Zaman especially after well-crafted century in the only tour match.However, the team management will be hoping that trio of young Babar Azam and veterans Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez will continue their good work in the middle as they’ve done in the recent past.
In absence of all-rounder Imad Wasim, Fahim Ashraf is likely to get a longer stint in the team and will be responsible to provide a big finish.In the bowling department, the team will bank on the left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir and number one ODI bowler Hasan Ali to lead from the front, whereas young Shadab Khan will lead the spin attack.
For New Zealand, the series proposes another opportunity to stamp their authority in the 50-over format after whitewashing West Indies in the recently concluded three-match series.The home side’s batting lineup has bolstered with the return of veteran opener Martin Guptill, but the pressure will be on Captain Kane Williamson and veteran middle-order batsman Ross Taylor to provide stability, whereas the team management will be hoping that opener Colin Munro will continue his good form.
In the bowling department, the focus will be on the likes of veteran Tim Southee and his new-ball partner Trent Boult to lead from the front, whereas the Black Caps are expected to go in with two spinners in Mitchell Santner and Todd Astle.